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Exclusive: ‘People no longer travel with the single intention of business or leisure,’ says Mercure GM

Naseer Thodi, general manager at Mercure Dubai Barsha Heights – Hotel Suites & Apartments tells Hotel & Catering News Middle East about a new type of travel he’s observed, his plans for the property and more.

What, according to you as GM, are the top 5 things that business travellers look for when choosing a hotel?
Amenities provided in a hotel are the top priority for business travellers when they book a stay. The hotel should have everything on site to stay connected and productive.

Complimentary Wi-Fi, in-room phones, on-site gym, well-equipped meeting spaces and a 24/7 business centre are essential. It is also key that the room has a dedicated work space to allow uninterrupted workflow. Certainly, a convenient location is also vital to make travelling easier, whether it is shuttling between the airport, office or convention centres.

Please expand on the full range of sophisticated services that makes Mercure Dubai appealing to businesses.
Mercure Dubai Hotel Suites & Apartments, a part of Accor Hotel Group, is the largest Mercure hotel in the world with 607 hotel apartments and 408 hotel suites. The hotel guarantees great value as it offers remarkable spaces for meeting, dining and lounging all under one roof, and is becoming increasingly popular for businesses due to its short and extended stay services.

We have recently launched a unique duplex space for meetings that combine levels 40 and 41 that offer panoramic city and sea views, with a capacity to accommodate 10 to 120 persons and including high-quality AV equipment, excellent catering and outstanding service.

The property also enjoys proximity to key business districts such as Internet City, Media City and Knowledge Village, which adds to the convenience of hosting a corporate event. In addition to being just a minute’s walk in the shade from the Dubai Internet City metro exit, the hotel also has easy access to the Monorail, Tram and the Dubai International Airport.

Designed with meticulous attention to comfort, the bright and elegantly decorated suites lead into a spacious living area and big bedrooms, complete with a large private balcony.

There are five restaurants: an all-day dining venue, a signature Greek restaurant, a lobby café, a newly launched sports bar and a pool bar. The hotel is also equipped with a fitness centre, spa, salon, kids’ club and modern meeting spaces, catering to diverse guest profiles. The modish suites offer the perfect address right in the heart of Dubai, without any of its chaos, for those visiting on business.

Mercure Dubai has the unique aspect of having the most number of keys for a property of its range. What measures were taken to optimise occupancy?
A huge part of adding up occupancy levels requires advance planning. It is crucial to be ahead of the game by planning around the big events taking place in the city, and activating packages around local, regional and international holidays.

While focusing on different segments of businesses like leisure groups, corporate bookings and MICE opportunities, we have also tapped into new markets which have not already stayed with us.

Our mission is primarily to guarantee guest satisfaction, and to ensure this, we have added value to the stays by creating special packages and F&B promotions. For example, we offer the “12+1” deal for our long-term residents, where they get a month of free stay for a booking of 12 months.

How has Mercure Dubai prepared for the Expo 2020?
When it comes to Expo 2020, we enjoy two significant advantages that are attracting guests from the world over: direct access to the metro as well as proximity to the Expo location. We have also seen strong support from the DTCM to bring in more travellers into Dubai that has helped accelerate business significantly.

Along with the rest of the UAE, we have worked long and hard in preparation of the Expo 2020. And with a few months to go, we are proud to be more than ready to welcome our guests. Major renovations and new developments have been actualised across the property, including the opening of our 408 new suites, the ‘4041’ meeting space, the new sports bar called THE EXIT, and the launch of our latest dining offering – a Greek restaurant – in January 2020.  

Our idea is quite simple, Mercure Dubai Barsha Heights – just like Dubai – is a place where people can both work and play. We want our guests to enjoy the lively atmosphere in an urban-cool setting that can be seen throughout the property.

What changes are you expecting to see in terms of financial returns following the Expo?
According to the data from DTCM, Expo 2020 is expected to attract 25 million people from more than 190 countries. The hospitality industry is one of the key sectors directly impacted by the Expo 2020, with studies showing an increase of 16% in ADR.

While we see a direct increase in revenue, the Expo is also indirectly influencing employment rates in the region with Dubai and UAE-based companies enjoying an increased supply chain demand.

It’s very common for business travellers to visit many of the same destination multiple times during the year. What is your advice to hoteliers for making their property attractive to this target market?Hoteliers cannot ignore the importance of marketing and sales strategies. If you think this needs an overhaul, then this is the biggest investment your firm will need to focus on to ensure high occupancy throughout the year.

For corporate groups, you need to think of deals that includes both rooms and meeting spaces. This requires innovation, but it is very beneficial for repeat business.

Also, the millennial generation value the opportunity to earn rewards with the companies that they do business with. Hotels should develop a system that rewards guests for staying frequently, for purchasing upgrades, and for referring guests. This often generates repeat bookings, which are particularly lucrative.

People no longer travel with the single intention of business or leisure; we are in the era of ‘bleisure’. Building local partnerships like adventure companies, theme parks, or museums can help create an idea of their full itinerary before booking.

What is your take on ‘Bleisure’ travellers? With a steady growth witness in this kind of travel in the recent future, is this trend here to stay?
‘Bleisure’ travel has become a corporate standard and I believe this trend is here to stay, particularly in a cultural and business hub like Dubai. In 2019, the global travel industry has witnessed that more than half the guests have extended a business trip to add leisure time.

There is no doubt that the travel experience is changing fast and there is no going back for hoteliers. The key incentive that we need to focus on is personalisation. The great efforts from DTCM and remarkable future projects planned by the Government is helping the hospitality and tourism firms in Dubai.


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